Church tech equipment is expensive: cameras, computers, light boards, lights, soundboards, stage designs, audio systems, music gear, software – it all easily sums up to thousands of dollars, exceeding the tech budget available. Since many church tech directors may have to make big things happen on a limited budget, we’ve come up with 5 ways to increase your budget and make the most of what you have.
1) Prioritize What to Spend On
Not everything you invest in needs to be brand new. Figure out what will impact the production quality of the service the most and then prioritize those items. Things like the soundboard you’re using, light board, type of lights, and type of music gear can increase your production quality immensely and shouldn’t be at the low end of the spectrum.
Smaller items don’t need to be high-end and can instead be bought second-hand; this includes cables and mics. The costs you save here can be invested in gear that will have a greater impact on your church ministry. If you know what you can save on and what you should prioritize, then you can make more of the budget you have.
Another useful trick is to make a priority and pricing list that helps you stay on top of what’s essential to buy and what’s simply an item on your nice-to-have wishlist like Apple TVs. This way, you avoid making bad purchases and wasting your budget. The way to go about it is to make a wishlist of your gear items, rank them by priority, and add prices for each item. Also, indicate what you plan on buying new or used. Moving forward, stick to this list whenever you want to make a purchase so you can track what you actually need and stay focused on meeting your budget.
2) Sell Unused Gear
Just like an overflowing closet of clothes you never wear, tech gear can pile up and collect dust if not used regularly. Have a look around the gear you keep for Sunday Service, and be honest about what you no longer use or need. These items can be sold, and you can use the money collected to increase your current church tech budget.
In addition, every time you upgrade a piece of gear, make sure to sell the old one if you no longer have any use for it. You may keep certain items as backups, but if they are never used, it’s wiser to sell them as the money will be more useful for other things.
3) Network With Other Church Tech Directors
It’s always helpful to learn from others in the same industry, so reaching out to church tech directors at other churches through online forums, social media, or in person can give you ideas on how to manage your budget more effectively. Ask them what challenges they face and how they overcome them, what tricks they have to save on expenses or increase their budgets, and whether they have connections to second-hand suppliers or discounted gear that you could be using too.
Constantly communicating with other tech directors can help you in many ways, including figuring out how to increase and make the most of your church tech budget. You may learn about potential alternatives you haven’t considered before.
4) Take Advantage of Special Sales
Since prices fluctuate throughout the year due to different sales, you may want to be smart about when to buy new gear. Make sure to monitor prices online and offline, both in used and new markets, and find out when you’ll have the best chance of getting a good deal. Obviously, around Black Friday and Thanksgiving, you will be able to save a lot, so if it’s possible for you to wait until then, do it to take advantage of the cost savings for your budget.
A few other holidays that usually offer good sales include New Year's Day (January 1st), President's Day (3rd Monday of February), Memorial Day (Last Monday in May), Independence Day (July 4th), Labor Day (1st Monday in September), and Columbus Day (1st Monday in October).
5) Other Savings
Aside from taking advantage of sales, selling what you don’t need, saving expenses by buying used gear, and learning from others in the industry, you can also save by reassessing which paid contractors to keep in certain roles. While you may think you need certain labor because you’d otherwise not have an effective process in place, you could alternatively train and develop volunteers to do the same work for free. So, instead of continuing to pay contractors, you can make better use of your time by finding volunteers that are capable of filling those same roles.
Additionally, you can reexamine areas where you have used outside labor to perform maintenance or help with project labor. Since manufacturers often provide training tools and resources so that equipment maintenance can be done by end-users, it may be wise to register for that training once, learn how to do the work yourself, and then train others to do it for you. In the long run, this will be worth the initial investment for the training and save you immense expenses on labor costs which can, in turn, be reinvested into your church tech budget.
By distinguishing your needs from your wants, being disciplined about how and when to buy new gear, and being honest about what you can cut out to decrease spending, you can effectively increase and make the most of your church tech budget.